At the end of April, a Littleton couple celebrated the third anniversary of being hit by an intoxicated driver by thanking the paramedic who saved their lives. The couple was walking their dog in April of 2018, when the driver hit them and continued on to plow his vehicle into a bank building. Though the story had a happy ending for the couple, who were both seriously injured but recovered, another woman was killed by the same driver–a driver who was not only under the influence of drugs, but also unlicensed.
We don’t know exactly how many unlicensed drivers are operating on Massachusetts roads. But, the RMV suspends more than 200,000 driver’s licenses each year. Of course, that does not include people who never applied for or received a Massachusetts driver’s license. And, tens of thousands of people are cited each year for operating without a driver’s license or on a suspended or revoked license.
Motor vehicle accidents involving unlicensed drivers pose a special problem for injury victims. While an unlicensed driver who negligently causes accidents is liable like any other negligent driver, recovering compensation can be much more difficult. That’s because compensation after a motor vehicle accident is typically paid by the responsible drivers automobile insurance carrier. And, purchasing automobile insurance requires a valid driver’s license.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that you are out of luck if you have been hit by an unlicensed driver. It’s important to speak with an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney right away to get a better understanding of your options and the time limits that may apply.
Options After Being Hit by an Unlicensed Driver
There are two basic options for pursuing compensation after an accident caused by an unlicensed driver. The first is to identify a responsible party who has the resources to pay damages. The second is to pursue compensation under your own uninsured motorist coverage.
Claims against Responsible Parties
The most obvious responsible party is likely the driver himself. However, an uninsured driver usually does not have the resources to satisfy a judgment. Therefore, even though you might be able to pursue a claim and win at trial, it may be difficult or impossible to recover damages from the driver. An experienced Massachusetts personal injury attorney will look into the possibility of pursuing an uninsured driver and determine whether such a claim would provide a reasonable chance of recovery.
Whether or not it appears that the driver has sufficient assets to justify pursuing a claim against him, your automobile accident attorney should also investigate to determine whether there are other possible responsible parties. Some possible responsible parties include:
- An employer, if the driver was on the job at the time of the accident
- The owner of the motor vehicle, if it was negligently entrusted to the unlicensed driver
- Another party who may have contributed to the accident, which may include people and entities such as:
- another driver on the road whose actions contributed to the accident
- the city or other entity responsible for road design and maintenance, if faulty design or poor maintenance contributed to the accident
- the manufacturer of a vehicle or a component part of a vehicle if failure of a warning system, airbag deployment, or other systems contributed to the accident or severity of the injuries
Uninsured Motorist Claims
Of course, the compensation available under your own uninsured motorist policy depends on the coverage that you purchased.
In Massachusetts, uninsured motorist coverage is required. However, only bodily injury coverage is required. You are not required to carry uninsured motorist coverage for property damage. And, the mandatory minimum amount of uninsured motorist coverage in Massachusetts is just $20,000 for one person. That means that if you have purchased only the minimum required coverage, your uninsured motorist coverage will not be sufficient to cover your losses if you are seriously injured. It also means that if you have only purchased the required insurance, you will not be entitled to any compensation for damage to or destruction of your vehicle. Generally, it is worth investing in more extensive uninsured motorist coverage.
If you have been injured in an accident with an unlicensed driver, it is in your best interest to seek advice from an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney as soon as possible. Acting early will give your attorney the best possible opportunity to identify any possible responsible parties. And, the time you have for proceeding with your own uninsured motorist claim may be much shorter than the statute of limitations for a car accident case against another person.
Attorney Kevin P. Broderick understands how important it is for you to have accurate information as soon as possible after a serious motor vehicle accident. That is why he offers free consultations to people who have been injured in an automobile accident in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire. You can schedule yours right now by calling 978-459-1792 or filling out the contact form on this website.
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